Friday, August 27, 2010
Mike Bloomberg has been adamant in his support of the Ground Zero Mosque. Even at the cost of voter approval, he has stuck to an unpopular position that has cost him a lot of political support. Is he really devoted to a matter of principle? Should he be admired for going against the crowd? Or are other factors influencing his decision?
A little article in an English language newspaper from the United Arab Emirates sheds some light on Mayor Bloomberg's possible concerns that could influence his support for the Ground Zero Mosque.
The National reports that Bloomberg News will be more than doubling its office staff at its Dubai office in 2010 and 2011. The National reported as follows back in 2008 as follows.
"The company has had a presence in Dubai for a decade. The planned expansion would increase its staff from 25 to 40 by the end of the year, and to as many as 100 by the middle of next year, Mr Linnington said. The decision to expand was prompted by strong regional sales of its terminals, which provide financial news and data to bankers, traders, portfolio managers and corporations, as well as to other journalists."
Marketing financial news is of course an adjunct to doing business. And it looks like Bloomberg has plans to expand in business itself rather than just reporting on it. Max Linnington, director of Middle East operations for Bloomberg News reported as follows in The National.
"The company has also been developing an Islamic finance portal, which Mr Linnington said would be helped by having more people on the ground building relationships." Particularly since the meltdown of the western capitalist system, there has been an increasingly large focus on the virtues of Islamic finance," he said. "Today, there is no one single provider of information that caters to the Islamic finance market. So by Bloomberg being here, we are in the process of building out an Islamic finance product. We are very confident that we can build a product that meets the needs of the market right now."
Up until now, coverage of the Mosque debate has focused on Mayor Bloomberg's dogged adherence to an unpopular position. A look at his Middle Eastern business interests provide a lot of insight into what might be influencing his decisions as mayor.
A comprehensive discussion of the Ground Zero Mosque debate should include a discussion of where Mike Bloomberg's financial interests lie. We have listened to him preach to us and scold us for our supposed bigotry. Now it's time to ask some hard questions.
Mayor Bloomberg's publicity machine has made sure that all New Yorkers know that he only gets paid a dollar a year as mayor. That may well be all that he is paid. But is it all that he gets? Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The New York Post yesterday brought to light a controversy involving readings on Muslims and Christians that portrayed Christians as bigoted and repressive and conversely lauded Muslims as tolerant and cosmopolitan. The readings are as follows.
* “Wherever they went, the Moslems [sic] brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.
* “Some of the finest centers of Moslem life were established in Spain. In Cordova, the streets were solidly paved, while at the same time in Paris people waded ankle-deep in mud after a rain. Cordovan public lamps lighted roads for as far as ten miles; yet seven hundred years later there was still not a single public lamp in London!”
* “Idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism destroyed.”
* “Christian buildings often constructed on sites of destroyed native temples in order to symbolize and emphasize the substitution of one religion by the other.”
* “Indians supplied construction labor without receiving payment.”
* “In a converted community, services and fiestas were regularly held in the church building.”
Source: Based on information from Charles Gibson, Spain in America"
The Board of Regents was slammed for displaying a bias against Christianity and deference to Muslims.Looking at the readings, there is not a single word of falsehood in them. There was indeed a time when Muslim Turkey and Egypt were havens for Jews fleeing Christian persecution. There were regular forced conversions to Christianity from other faiths, as well as burnings of the Talmud and of works by Christians deemed to be heretics.
Conversely, there was indeed a time when science and learning flourished in Muslim lands and in which a legal framework for some religious freedom existed.
There is a major problem with the Regents readings. Christianity has a 2000 year history and Islam has a 1400 year history. The sun of tolerance has risen and set many times in both faiths. Today, the politically dominant sects of Christianity do not force their faiths on non believers. Conversely, religious freedom is faring very badly in most of the Islamic world today. Religions other than Islam are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Christians are officially second class citizens in Egypt. The Christian population in the Arab world has been dwindling in the last 50 years because of institutionalized discrimination against non Muslims.
There was a time when Muslim lands were havens of refuge for Jews, and where Christians and Jews enjoyed a comfortable inequality. It should be noted that the Muslim world was not uniform in its attitude towards human rights. The family of Moshe ben Maimon, (Maimonides) had to flee one Muslim jurisdiction where they were forced to convert to Islam to Egypt, where Maimonides became a physician to the king.
There are sects of Christianity that died out because their adherents were murdered and their writings were burned. The followers of Arius, an early Christian leader who rejected trinitarianism were wiped out. Huguenots and Waldensians fared little better 1000 years later, although remnants of each sect survived the harsh persecutions.
Sunni and Shiite Muslims are famous for their persecutions of each other in areas where one has political or numerical dominance over the other . And who can forget the Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are outcasts in Pakistan and elsewhere?
The New York Board of Regents seems to have cherry picked centuries of Muslim and Christian history to present Muslims in a positive light and Christians in a negative light. Both Muslims and western secularists make of Christianity a common enemy.
An honest look at the history of the world's faiths that have achieved regional political dominance would show that there are periods of repression and of freedom in the history of each. Students of history would do well to find in each faith the textual and theological foundations of intolerance and of inclusiveness.
Additionally, external cultural, social, economic and political factors should be sought that cause believers to seek validation for either repressive or inclusive attitudes towards those who do not share their faith. If someone has a holy book with words of peace and words of war, what moves them to accentuate one verse over another? The Global History exam readings put together by the Board of Regents leaves many of these questions unasked.
It seems that there are parameters of discussion in American and European academia that are every bit as strict as any religion's articles of faith. It is tempting to label secular humanism as a new religion or at the very least a new political and social orthodoxy. Many would question whether secular humanism is a religion at all as much it is a sort of consensus. If indeed, secular humanism is a religion, they haven't invited me to their church or taught me their secret handshake. Since they don't believe in a hereafter, they can't threaten me with hell. But they can dock me points on the Regents Exam. I think I'm getting scared already. Sphere: Related Content
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Parents of Mentor High School Suicide Victim Sue High School For Standing Idly By Their Daughter's Blood
Sladjana Vidovic came to America with her family to escape the violence of her native Craotia. Unfortunately for her and for her grieving family, they settled in Mentor, Ohio, a town with a high school infamous for bullying. During her sad stay in that miserable town, Sladjana was taunted by both boys and girls. At one point, she was even shoved down a flight of stairs. Pleas from her parents fell of deaf ears. Many children who are bullied find their own victims and become victimizers themselves. Sladjana did not, however do this. She had a reputation of being kind and supportive to others, and kept her personal pain bottled up inside.
On October 2, 2008, Sladjana committed suicide. Her death was a part of a cluster of 5 suicides in a 2 year period among students at Mentor High School. The high school has also had is share of sexual abuse cases.
In an indication of just how clueless the administration is to the pain of the walking wounded who don't kill themselves, the Mentor High School administration announced a new grading system that does nothing to address bullying, taunting or physical abuse. A small excerpt of this new grading system reads as follows.
"Classroom conduct will not be a factor in a student's final course grade. While the school still will expect appropriate classroom conduct, regular attendance, punctuality and respect, those qualities don't represent a student's acquisition of knowledge and skills as measured by a grade."
So you can sit in class and sneer at some kid that you consider to be a lower life form and your grade won't suffer. That is beneath contempt. The way kids behave in the lunch room and at recess should matter at least as much as their grades.
Bullying is not some petty issue. It has a body count attached to it as well. The Vidovic family fled turmoil in Croatia and lost a daughter here. It is a disgrace to our country that such a thing should occur with no apparent redress. Bully Police is an organization founded by Brenda High, a mother whose 12 year old son Jared committed suicide in 1998, when he was 13 years old.
The death of victims of "bullycide" should spur people to action. Bill Cosby, speaking out about the suicide of Phoebe Prince, a 15 year old Irish immigrant who committed suicide in South Hadley Massachusetts noted as follows.
"the supposedly responsible adults at school who failed in their primary responsibility; creating a safe environment in which character and values are modeled by adults and in which academic learning can be maximized. I think the lazy, uncaring cowards that are now finding justifications and asking us to excuse their behavior deserve the strongest consequences."
Cosby also named individuals who he felt should be fired in the Phoebe Prince case.
The Northwestern Massachusetts District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel has filed charges against 9 individuals involved in the Phoebe Prince bullicide. Some people think she went too far. Others think that school administrators should be charged as well.
The comments by Bill Cosby on the Phoebe Prince story apply equally to Mentor School Superintendent Jacqueline Hoynes and Mentor High School Principal Joseph Spiccia, and their record of inaction at Mentor High School.
Conduct that would be criminal for adults should not be dismissed when the perpetrators are children. Character and social behavior are at least as important in the education of a child as the absorption of factual knowledge. Whatever strategies are used to combat bullying, children should go home from school with the knowledge that their behavior in social relationships is of critical importance. The best way to honour the memory of Sladjana Vidovic, Eric Mohat and Phoebe Prince is to create learning environments in which they would not have been driven to suicide. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Everyone has heard about the Ground Zero Mosque. Mayor Bloomberg, sidestepping the crass insensitivity of locating a mosque so close to Ground Zero has defended it in grounds of religious freedom, an argument that could justify a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor.
Lost in the discussion of religious freedom at Ground Zero has been the issue of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed when one of the World Trade Center towers fell on it. It remains destroyed 9 years later, despite the desire of many of its faithful that it rise again from the ashes, efforts to rebuild it remain mired in a bureaucratic maze.
There have been efforts to relocate the church away from its original site, as well as rumours that some of these efforts may succeed. But so far, most of the defenders of rebuilding the St. Nicholas Church seem to be Republican conservatives such as George Demos, who is running for Congress on a Conservative Republican ticket.
Why are the defenders of religious freedom for Muslims silent when it comes to rebuilding a church that was actually destroyed by the 9/11 attackers? It's time to clear a path for the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church to be rebuilt. If we are to argue for the religious freedom of Muslims, we must not be silent when the rights of other denominations are violated. Sphere: Related Content
Friday, August 13, 2010
"That is despicable. She said the word over and over, and in a very animated way, I might add, but that she actually, if you listen carefully to the logic of what she was saying was that the N-word was not offensive."
A man like Al Sharpton should be the last to speak about racism. His infamous role in the Crown heights riots and the Freddie's Fashion Market picketing which led to arson and death (see link below) has no right whatsover to cry racism.
There is a lot to dislike about" Dr" Laura. Her advice is questionable. She cuts herself slack and gives none to others. She gave up on orthodox Judaism because some Jews hurt her feelings. The woman annoys the hell out of me. But she is no racist. I have heard "whitey" f***ing Jew and other insults. I have been refused service by an African American van driverbecause he would not take a white passenger. Anti white violence, incitement and hatred goes uncensured and unpunished.My only beef with Laura schlessinger is not that she said the N word but that she apologised. The woman is not a racist. She is a coward.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I was thinking about my father all day today. We used to debate all the time about politics, religion and all of the topics that are too hot for casual conversation. He used to believe that religion and nationality divided people. He was against tribalism in any form. It was an opinion I accepted for years and later rejected emphatically. Despite my difference of opinion with him, he raised objections that were necessary for me to hear and to address.
To me, it seems that individual, family and nation are necessary dimensions of human experience. Just like you have protons, neutrons and electrons that make up atoms which make up molecules, so too is humanity organised. Whether this is wrong or right does not matter, it's just the way things are. It's what we make of it that makes the real difference in our lives.
I experienced this on a gut level when I started raising my own family and realised that it became a context in which I could empathise with others. Being patriotic as an American or a Canadian or Chinese can be chauvinistic, or it can be a thread of commonality that makes it possible to empathise with others.
Then there are matters of religious faith. I may believe in religious truths that are mutually exclusive of what others believe. How do I find a place for tolerance? If G-d can remain silent as His word and wishes are hotly debated, then surely we should be tolerant of those who read different truths into the Great Silence.
There is a debate in the orthodox Jewish world over whether women should use a kerchief or a wig to cover their hair. The two points of view overlap only in the belief that the hair of married women should be covered. I was given a very harshly worded leaflet from "the other side" that condemned wigs in the harshest terms. I use the leaflet as a book mark, to remind myself of how passionately people can disagree and how careful we must be to be respectful of those who choose different paths.
What troubles me far more than doctrinal and religious disputes are the daily cruelties of life both great and small that seem to go on uncorrected. I am far more troubled by Congolese war atrocities and abuses in American prisons, for instance than I am about thousands of different religious sects with mutually exclusive takes on reality.
It's an oddity of my life that the arguments I had with my loved ones live on after they are gone. And those disagreements are what I still appreciate most.
I was looking for a song from Raj Kapoor's "Shree 420 " film. As a person of mixed ancestry, it illustrates my view or the world.All I could find of the translated lyrics is as follows.
"Mera joota hai japani = My shoes are Japanese
Yeh pataloon inglistani = My pants are English
Sar pe lal top russi = The red hat on my head is Russian
Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani = Even then, my heart remains Indian."
I'm not Indian, but I feel about the same about my corner of the world. While I was looking for the subtitled Raj Kapoor video, I also discovered asinger named Himesh Reshammiya,who is one of the top popular singes in India. I also included a video of his music. Discovering his music proves that sometimes life is what happens when you were expecting something else.
There are days when lively debate with those long departed echoes on through time and when a voice of my Jewish awareness comes through an Indian film from back in 1955. Life sure is strange. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Betty Boop's 80th birthday was yesterday, August 9. She first appeared in the video "Dizzy Dishes", which was a 6 minute 6 second cartoon in which she appeared for a little over a minute. Anyone who watched her at the time was reminded of the famous singer Helen Kane (I Wanna Be Loved By You) and the film star Clara Bow. The early days of cartoons were far more free wheeling, with raciness and double entendre accepted far more than they were towards the mid 1930's, when the film industry cracked down on any sort of immodesty.
In 1930, when "talkies" were still fairly young, no one really realised how far they would go. A lot of Jews gravitated to the fledgling film and cartoon industry. If you look closely at the opening part of "Dizzy Dishes", one of the waiters throws a slab of meat at an annoying customer with the word "kosher" in Hebrew letters clearly stamped on one side. Additionally, the same waiter is scolded in Yiddish by a customer as he is working in the kitchen.
Betty Boop later on launched the career of Popeye, who first appeared in a Betty Boop cartoon. Like other cartoon characters at the time, Boop evolved in appearance both in her attire and her physical features. changing from racy clothing and floppy ears to mor modest fashions and hoop earrings.
Classic cartoons are often experienced on one level by children and on another level by an adult audience. Betty Boop clearly fits into this category. Happy birthday Betty. And many thanks to your creators, animator Grim Natwick and Max Fleischer.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010
There are some crimes which are sensational and anomalous, a blip on the graph of human depravity and not part of a pattern. Great Britain is faced with a new epidemic, that of pedo pimps. These chromosomally human individuals have a mode of operation in which they befriend and gain the trust of young girls of middle school and even elementary school age. After plying them with gifts of clothing, jewelry and sometimes drugs and alcohol, they then "turn them out" which involves brutally raping them and then intimidating them into working as prostitutes. The London Daily Mail reports as follows.
"Emma remembers every detail. Two of those ‘friends’ in the shopping
mall were teenage boys, Niv and Jay, who were being used by a criminal gang to lure naive local girls into an underage sex ring.
They introduced Emma to older relatives, in their 20s and 30s, who said they wanted to be her friends, too. They plied her with vodka, cigarettes and cannabis spliffs.
‘I thought I was having a great time. I had no idea the men were part of a gang,’ she says now.
‘They were more exciting than my school friends. I began to meet them every day after school before catching the bus home.’
Unfortunately for Emma, things quickly spun out of control. The Daily Mail continues.
"One, 24-year-old, Tarik, took a particular interest in her. He was the gang’s ring leader - and one day he imposed his authority on her in the most brutal fashion.
He led Emma to a patch of wasteland near the bus station and raped her.
The whole episode was watched by a group from the gang who, laughing, recorded the attack on their mobile phone cameras.
Afterwards, Emma was left to pick herself up, try to wash the blood off her clothes in the nearby public lavatory, and catch the early evening bus home."
After this, Emma was threatened with harm to her family if she told what happened to her or if she refused to work as a prostitute. When the parents tried to protect her, the pimps would threaten the parents. Eventually, Emma and her family had to move. She dyed her hair a different colour and cut it a different way. The father lost his business because he had to relocate.
The dirty secret in the pimping of school children in England is the pattern of "Asian" men and British girls. In England "Asian" usually means Pakistani or Indian Muslims. Within their own families, the pimps and their customers put Muslim women of their own ethnicity on a pedestal. By contrast, they view non Muslim British girls as loose and disreputable, fair game for rape and abuse.
The sentences meted out for these sorts of crimes are shockingly small. How low are the sentences? Aftab Khan, who forced a 14 year old girl into prostitution, got 7 years in jail. His accomplices got sentences ranging from 8 months to 4 years in prison.
To address crime properly, one must address the motives and mete out the proper punishment. There is a mindset among many Muslim immigrants in Britain that non Muslims are fair game, that there is no limit to what can be done to degrade them. There must be a crackdown on the behavior that reflects this mentality.
A 7 year sentence for serial acts of rape and brutality does not reflect the level of indignation that these crimes elicit. People who move to Britain should respect its citizens. If they can not do so, they should be deported. If contempt of British women is so widespread among Muslim immigrants, then British women should be forewarned. Perhaps it is time for British men to be more pro active in rescuing enslaved women and to turn over their captors for justice.
Is there any hope left for Britain? Will the British authorities tear off the gag of political correctness and condemn anti white, anti European racism? Bigotry is a human condition, odious no matter who the target might be. Some of the most virulent racism in Britain is against Englishmen. Tolerance is a two way street. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
"Containers of an explosive liquid from a chemical plant in northern China have been washed into a river. If the chemical leaks, it may cause an environmental disaster both in China and Russia.
The barrels, numbering at least 3,000, contain liquefied methyl chloride – a toxic and highly-flammable gas."
The recent dump of 3000 barrels of toxic waste is not an infrequentent occurrence. China's standards of environmental protection are piecemeal and poorly enforced.
Indyposted.com notes that the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Environment of China signed a memorandum in 2008 to protect water quality in the rivers Amur, Ussuri, Argun, Razdolnaya and Lake Hanka. This agreement unfortunately only deals with incidents after the fact as they occur. It does nothing to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Europe and the US are decades ahead of China in dealing with pollution. There are many Chinese cities with air that gives citizens the daily equivalent of a heavy smoking habit. America and Europe could assist China in controlling its industrial pollution. Instead, current government policy under the Obama administration is to promote the Kyoto Treaty and other regulations that would cripple US industry with regulations that would do little to curb pollution.
China's reckless attitude towards the environment is hurting its neighbours. It has come a long way since the 1940's, when it was a mostly agrarian nation. With prosperity comes responsibility. It is time for environmental activists to look where pollution is really coming from and adjust their focus accordingly. If the US economy is healthy, it can capitalise efforts to make China and other new industrial powers more green than they currently are. We worry as individuals about second hand smoke and poisoning our neighbours. It is time for China to share this concern as well.
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Sunday, August 1, 2010
International sports are supposed to be a bridge of international understanding. Back in 1971, America had no diplomatic relations with China. Stamp collectors couldn't even buy communist Chinese postage stamps. Then an American ping pong team accepted an invitation to play in China, paving the way for further games, and a historical visit by President Richard Nixon to China.
Sports events lead to personal contact between athletes. Additionally, they provide a safe outlet for political and national rivalries.
There is a temptation to exclude "outlaw nations" from international competitions. This is a slippery slope. Many countries have serious human rights issues. China in Tibet, Turkey with their Kurdish population and Pakistan with their Hindu minority all have srious human rights issues. If they were suspended from competition , that would leave over a third of the world's population unrepresented. There is no question that sports, academic and cultural contacts are opportunities for adversaries to experience each other's common humanity.
There is one ironclad exception to isolating an outlaw nation. If a losing sports team is returning to a country that will punish them for their loss, that country should be isolated, barred from international competition, Iraq under Sadaam Hussein used to torture losing athletes. Now North Korea is alleged to be inflicting punishment on iits team that lost at the World Cup soccer match last month. The Toronto Star reports as follows on what happened to the North Korean team upon its return to North Korea.
"In a country that takes perverse delight in punishing its most loyal servants, you could smell the payback coming.
It apparently arrived on July 2, shortly after the North Koreans returned home.
The 23-man roster – minus its two Japanese-based ringers, Jong “Weepy” Tae-se and An Yong-hak – was hauled up on stage in front of 400 attendees at the inaptly named People’s Palace of Culture.
The audience included a large number of university students and athletes, as well as high party officials."
The coach, Kim Jong hun has reportedly been banished to construction work and stripped of his membership in the North Korean Worker's Party. Observers of life in North Korea report that such treatment often precedes an execution. Kim Jong hun, the coach was ominously charged with “"betraying the young General Kim Jong-un,”who as son of Kim Jong il is reportedly being groomed to be the next dictator of North Korea. Radio Free Asia reports that the treatment accorded to the deposed soccer coach shows that his life is in danger. Indeed, the architect of North Korea's disastrous currency reform was similarly humiliated before he was executed.
No decent athlete wants to play a team that might be killed if they are defeated. Yet imprisonment, torture and murder are real possibilities for North Korea's athletes. No country that treats its sports figures in this way deserves to compete internationally. North Korea should be booted from any international sports competition. What they do to their athletes is beneath contempt. Sphere: Related Content